In the tea leaves he sees talons,
but as a séance produces not one
admonishing ancestor, he exchanges
a swipe of plastic for a ticket
and gently requests an exit row seat.
As usual, the in-flight magazine induces
vague dissatisfaction, though on the ground
he's never longed to merge into
a depachika's bustle in Tokyo
nor to dance in Memphis's oldest ballroom.
After hours hunched in coach, he disembarks
and recalls a photograph he saw as a child,
the picture of a hawk, one claw clasping
the loose skin of either side of a rabbit's neck.
That's the sharp pain in his shoulders -
talons - as he trods toward the baggage carousel
and nurses the most ordinary grief.
From Staple No 60 (Summer 2004)